Wairarapa United 2
The Tumu ITM Wairarapa United women finished the season in style, winning the Kelly Cup 2-0 over a game Waterside-Karori at Fraser Park, Lower Hutt on Saturday.
After a scoreless first half, United broke the deadlock after 65 minutes with a left-foot strike from about 25m by captain Tui Dugan.
United saved their best until the last with a goal to midfielder Flo Macintyre with about 10 minutes to play, described by coach Paul Ifill as probably the goal of the season.
“We put together about 12 passes and then it was played to Flo and from about 20m out she hit it with her right foot straight into the top corner,” he said.
“It was a fantastic goal and a great way to win a cup final.”
Ifill was thrilled with the outcome against a team he said set up to try and win the game on the counterattack.
“We played all the better football, and we looked the better team, but we couldn’t break them down.
“They sat really deep, and it was difficult.
“At halftime, we spoke about what we needed to do to break them down, like take a few more chances, put the ball at risk and look for a few one-twos around the box, and in the second half we kept the ball, and it worked really well.”
The Kelly Cup is New Zealand women’s football oldest trophy and is played as a knockout competition between clubs in the Capital Federation.
Etching their name on the cup was the perfect way to conclude the season for United, who struggled in the first round of the W-League but recovered to finish fourth.
“The second half of the season they did brilliant,” said Ifill.
“There was only one really poor performance and that was against Wellington United at home, but I’ve been really pleased with them in the second half, and they stuck to what we wanted them to do.”
As for the 2021 season, Ifill initially thought the squad would look a lot different but is not so sure now.
“We spoke after the game, and most of them want to come back,” he said.
“I think with covid a lot of them are kind of stuck. There are a lot who would normally be going back off to university and I don’t think they’re sure they can actually do that at the moment.”
Ifill was also keen to coach the team for one more season.
“I still feel we’ve got a squad good enough to win the league, and the players have now realised there’s unfinished business as well, and so do I, and it would be nice to go one more time and try and win the league next year.”
The former Wellington Phoenix star said he also needed to change aspects of his coaching to enhance the side’s chances.
“At the start of the season, we usually do a values meeting and a goal-setting meeting, and we didn’t have time because of covid.
“It was either do that or do a field session, and because we were undercooked a little bit fitness-wise and we hadn’t done enough on the field I decided we would do the values meeting later into the season.
“But in hindsight, that was a mistake from me, and that is something I would change. I’ll spend time over the off-season trying to be a better coach.”
As for new recruits, Ifill said there were a couple of players he had spoken to, but otherwise he was satisfied with the make-up of the squad.